Release: Women’s & Workers’ Rights Groups Launch Stronger California Legislative Agenda

May 13. 2019


For Immediate Release
May 13, 2019

Media Contact
Jess Eagle, Strategic Communications Manager
Equal Rights Advocates
(415) 575-2380
[email protected]

 

2019 bills address sexual harassment, pay discrimination, deep childhood poverty & more

SACRAMENTO — Today a network of more than 50 California nonprofits and advocacy groups launched a bold legislative agenda to address sexual harassment, lack of affordable child care, forced arbitration, and other issues faced by working women and families across California.

Known as the Stronger California Advocates Network, the groups work in partnership with members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus every year to support policies that advance economic security for working women and families. The 2019 agenda tackles multiple barriers that converge to hold women back from professional success and keep families in poverty. The bills include:

  • Assembly Bill 9 (Reyes, Friedman, Waldron): Would extend the filing deadline for harassment and other discrimination claims from one year to three years. The current one year limit is significantly less time than other civil claims.
  • Assembly Bill 51 (Gonzalez): Would prohibit employers from forcing workers to sign arbitration agreements or other waivers of their rights as a condition of employment, and would prohibit retaliation against workers who decline to sign. These agreements are used to silence victims of sexual harassment, wage theft, and other workplace violations and keep them from seeking justice in court.
  • Senate Bill 171 (Jackson): Would require employers with 100+ employees to submit annual pay data reports to the Dept. of Fair Employment and Housing broken down by gender, race, ethnicity, and job category to ensure workers are being paid fairly.
  • Assembly Bill 516 (Chiu): Would eliminate “poverty tows”— the practice of towing cars as a debt collection tool.
  • Senate Bill 321 (Mitchell): Would help low-income families on CalWORKS maintain reliable, affordable, quality child care, by aligning infrastructure and technology to eliminate gaps in child care that often occur when families transition between the three CalWORKS child care stages.
  • Budget Request: Domestic Worker Rights Education & Outreach Program –Domestic workers experience very high rates of sexual assault, harassment, and other violations on the job. This bill would fund an education, outreach and training program for domestic workers and employers on rights, protections, and the complaint process.
  • Assembly Bill 24 (Burke): Would establish a Targeted Child Tax Credit for families with children with incomes below half of the supplemental poverty level. If passed, the TCTC would better account for the actual cost-of-living by deducting family expenses from wages and support through social safety net programs—helping families get out of deep poverty.

Senate Bill 135 (Jackson) would expand access to Paid Family Leave, and Assembly Bill 142 (Wiener) would expand workplace lactation accommodations. Read the full agenda.

Quotes from Advocates

“The 2019 Stronger California Women’s Economic Security Agenda is a justice agenda for everyone. It tells the story of what workers, families, and people across genders need to live economically secure lives. This Stronger California community power has driven 24 major policy and budget wins over the past four years, helping millions of Californians and influencing similar change in states across the country.”

  • Noreen Farrell, Chair, Stronger California Advocates Network; Executive Director, Equal Rights Advocates

“The best Mother’s Day gift is access to quality, affordable child care that is stable, flexible, and uninterrupted. One of our members experienced 11 authorizations in 16 months. That type of stress is unnecessary and keeps working mothers from focusing on their employment and educational goals. We look forward to working with the Governor and Legislature to also expand access to affordable child care for families on the waiting list who do not have the luxury to wait.”

  • Mary Ignatius, Statewide Organizer, Parent Voices

“Being able to take the time you need to bond with a new child or care for a loved one is everything — it’s a crucial to the health and well-being of our families and to our peace of mind at work. The California Work & Family Coalition is focused on passing SB 135 (Jackson) because it will help more California workers and their families benefit from Paid Family Leave by simplifying and expanding the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) so that more workers have job protection when they take the time they need to care for family or bond with a new child. We’re especially excited that this bill expands the definition of family to embrace the fact that many of us care for or are cared for by chosen family or someone not related by blood.”

  • Jenya Cassidy, Director, California Work & Family Coalition

“Women policy makers have never been more united in ensuring that California’s laws not only accommodate us, but that they empower us. Stronger California is working toward a future where every woman and girl, regardless of her race or her income, is valued and her future is as golden as our state motto. California is only as strong as its women are empowered.”

  • Jessica Bartholow, Policy Advocate, Western Center on Poverty & Law

 “Breastfeeding is one of the best preventative health measures for both babies and breastfeeding parents and a key strategy to improve public health. Yet, widespread discrimination against breastfeeding workers and inadequate supports often force working parents to either stop breastfeeding or lose their job. Workplace lactation laws, like SB 142, increase breastfeeding rates, empower breastfeeding workers to ask for and receive the lactation accommodations they need, and ensure every parent can feed their child how they choose without risking their livelihood.”

  • Jenna Gerry, Senior Staff Attorney, Legal Aid at Work

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